Football statistics can often lie.
A stat sheet can offer something gaudy and make you think a player had a decent to good game. Take Ravens tight end Dallas Clark for example. He caught seven passes for 87 yards.
Considering Clark's a 34-year-old tight end that didn't have a job before the middle of training camp, it would seem he had a pretty good outing in Denver's 49-27 demolition of the Ravens.
With Dennis Pitta out indefinitely, Joe Flacco turned to Clark as his safety net, targeting him a team-high 12 times. At least three of the five passes that were incomplete were dropped, including one at the goal line on third down that would have probably been a touchdown near the end of the first half.
The bulk of Clark's yardage came on two plays — a 31-yard grab that Denver's Robert Ayers barely missed for a pick-six (thus giving Clark a lot of extra running room) and a 27-yard reception over the middle, which would have ended in a lost fumble if it wasn't for a Rahim Moore facemask penalty.
All things considered, it was a bad night for Clark, despite the 87 yards. In the NFL, you should put up a decent amount of yards on 12 targets.
But for as bad as Clark was, it didn't compare to Ed Dickson's night.
Dickson got his hands on all five passes thrown his way but was only able to catch one, good for a 13-yard completion. For all the improvements Dickson exhibited during training camp before his hamstring injury, none were on display Thursday night.
Clearly, the speed of the game picks up a notch on game day, given teams aren't tackling in practices. It makes you wonder if that's where Dickson's problem lies. During camp, he rarely dropped the ball in front of the media and fans. His teammates were impressed, with Kelechi Osemele proclaiming Dickson was having the camp of his life at one point.
Then Thursday happened, and the same weaknesses that have dogged Dickson the previous couple of years were out on display.
This is just one game and there are still15 to go. The tight ends will have a chance to improve and grow from what was a horrific start to the 2013 season.
And after a performance like Thursday's from Dickson and Clark, there's really only one way for the position group to go from here.
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